Japonifikacija Evrope? Smo “prekleti” na životarjenje?

Čaka razvito Evropo ista usoda kot Japonsko po letu 1991 (kot opozarja Mohamed El-Erian, ex-IMF in PIMCO, sedaj glavni ekonomist Allianz)? Indikatorji so sumljivo podobni: nizka inflacija, gospodarska rast v spodnji prestavi, obrestne mere na ničli in donos na državne vrednostne papirje že na ničli (ali pod njo, kot v Nemčiji). Ključni problem “japonifikacije” je, da v takšnih razmerah nizkih pričakovanj ni spodbud ne za zasebno trošenje in posledično ne za investicije. Potencialna in dejanska gospodarska rast se upočasnita na prosti tek. Vse obstane.

To pomeni sicer, da so pred razvito Evropo “izgubljena desetletja”, ali če hočete “sekularna stagnacija” (Summers).

Smo že tam, “prekleti” na životarjenje?

Ni nujno. Strinjam se z El-Erianom, da se države lahko še vedno izognejo japonskemu scenariju oziroma “sekularni stagnaciji”. Vendar s pravo kombinacijo ekonomskih politik. Namesto z monetarno, ki spodbuja zgolj stran ponudbe, s kombinacijo ukrepov na strani povpraševanja in ponudbe. Na povpraševalni strani je treba povečati javne naložbe v infrastrukturo in izobraževanje, kar na drugi strani hkrati krepi tudi ponudbene faktorje. Povečuje rast potencialnega BDP. Te investicije lahko države pokrijejo z monetarnim financiranjem deficitov (z odkupovanjem obveznic države v primarni emisiji), namesto da n-krat večje količine denarja centralne banke mečejo stran z odkupovanjem obveznic od finančnega sektorja (kvantitativno sproščanje).

Hkrati morajo države bolje poskrbeti za šibkejše člane družbe (stroški zdravstva, oskrbe in trajne oskrbe ostarelih). Politiki večinoma pozabljajo, da vsak evro, ki ga vlada nameni za dodatno zdravstveno ponudbo (gradnjo infrastrukture in storitve) ter za oskrbo ostarelih (javna gradnja domov za ostarele in subvencioniranje bivanja v njih), neposredno poveča BDP za ta evro, hkrati pa multiplikativno povečuje BDP prek vertikalnih povezav med panogami ter zaradi pospešenega povečanja trošenja gospodinjstev.

Vse to učimo študente v nižjih letnikih, ne pride pa v zavest politikov. Toda prav ta sprememba zavesti je ključna, da se izognemo japonifikaciji.

The Western economists who initially underestimated the threat of Japanification did so because they had downplayed or simply ignored these direct and indirect factors. In retrospect, they should not be surprised to find that the societies with the fastest-aging populations and less inward migration are the ones now struggling with Japanification.

Still, those economists were not wrong to argue that policies can play a decisive role in macroeconomic outcomes – especially when structural forces are being amplified by excessive cyclical tightening, as was the case in Japan in 1989. The problem is that they have tended to focus too narrowly on monetary policy, while overestimating its effectiveness. Countries at risk of Japanification need a much broader mix of policies to address both the demand side and the supply side of the economy.

Monetary policy, after all, is less effective near the “zero bound” and in scenarios where other “liquidity trap” factors are in play. Large-scale balance sheet operations like quantitative easing (QE) can buy time by seeking to inject more liquidity directly into the system. But they don’t address the underlying issues, and they come with their own set of costs, forms of collateral damage, and unintended consequences.

The strongest protection against Japanification, then, is a combination of demand- and supply-side measures at the national, regional (in the case of Europe), and global levels. In countries with adequate fiscal space, this could mean looser government budgets and more productivity-enhancing investments (such as in infrastructure, education, and training). And in any country facing skills shortages, increased legal migration and better policies to facilitate labor mobility can help close the gap.

Moreover, these policies would need to be accompanied by more effective protections for the most vulnerable segments of the population, particularly when it comes to health, training, and labor retooling. None of this will materialize without better political leadership and more enlightened global policy interactions.

Vir: Mohamed El-Erian, Project Syndicate)

 

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